Cirth
Cirth
Type alphabet
Languages Khuzdul, Sindarin, Quenya
Creator J.R.R. Tolkien
ISO 15924 Cirt, 291
Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols.

The Cirth ([ˈkirθ]; "Runes") are the letters of an semi-artificial script which was invented by J. R. R. Tolkien for the constructed languages he devised and used in his works. The initial C in Cirth is pronounced as a K, never as an S.

The runic alphabet used by the Dwarves of Middle-earth was adapted by J.R.R. Tolkien from real-life runes. In The Hobbit, the Anglo-Saxon futhorc was used in the publication with few changes; in The Lord of the Rings a new system of runes, the Cirth, was devised.

Since the Cirth is an alphabet, one rune generally stands for one sound (phoneme) and sounds that would be written with a digraph in English (such as "sh" and "th") are written with one rune. Words are separated by a dot rather than a space, and double consonants are grouped together into one rune, the same as if it were a single consonant. Presumably this alphabet was meant to be used in conjunction with a Dwarf language, but mostly it is used for transliterations.

In the fictional history of Middle-earth, the original Certhas Daeron was created by the elf Daeron, the minstrel of king Thingol of Doriath and was later expanded into what was known as the Angerthas Daeron. Although the Cirth were later largely replaced by the Tengwar (which were enhanced and brought by Fëanor), they were adopted by Dwarves to write down their Khuzdul language (Angerthas Moria and Angerthas Erebor) because their straight lines were better suited to carving than the curved strokes of the Tengwar. Some examples of Cirth writings are the inscription on Balin's tomb in Moria and the inscriptions on the top of the title pages for The Lord of the Rings. Cirth was also adapted, in its older and simpler form, by various kinds of Men and even Orcs. For example, it was used by the Men of Dale and the Rohirrim and the Orcs of Moria.

Cirth is plural and is written with a capital C when referring to the writing system—the runes themselves can be called cirth. A single rune is a certh.

Many letters have shapes also found in the historical futhorc runes (used in The Hobbit), but their sound values are dissimilar. Rather, the system of assignment of sound values is much more systematic in the Cirth than in the historical runes (e.g., voiced variants of a voiceless sound are expressed by an additional stroke). A similar system has been proposed for a few historical runes (e.g. p ᛈ and w ᚹ as variants of b ᛒ), but is in any case much more obscure. There are a few coincidental identities between cirth and runic letters, i with runic ᛁ, k with Younger Futhark ᚴ and ch with the Futhorc ᚳ; p is furthermore reminiscent of Latin P (runic ᚹ w).

Cirth is written according to a certain mode specifically adapted for a language, and the values of individual certh may vary greatly according to the mode used. Three modes for Cirth are described in detail in Appendix E of The Lord of the Rings, and others are known to exist or have been developed by enthusiasts.

The Cirth are not yet part of the Unicode Standard. However the ConScript Unicode Registry has defined the U+E080 to U+E0FF range of the Unicode "Private Use Area" for Cirth.

The Angerthas Daeron consists of 60 letters:

Certh 1.svg p Certh 16.svg zh Certh 31.svg l Certh 46.svg e
Certh 2.svg b Certh 17.svg nj-z Certh 32.svg lh Certh 47.svg ē
Certh 3.svg f Certh 18.svg k Certh 33.svg ng–nd Certh 48.svg a
Certh 4.svg v Certh 19.svg g Certh 34.svg s–h Certh 49.svg ā
Certh 5.svg hw Certh 20.svg kh Certh 35.svg s–’ Certh 50.svg o
Certh 6.svg m Certh 21.svg gh Certh 36.svg z–ŋ Certh 51.svg Certh 51a.svg ō
Certh 7.svg (mh), mb Certh 22.svg ŋ–n Certh 37.svg ng* Certh 52.svg Certh 52a.svg ö
Certh 8.svg t Certh 23.svg kw Certh 38.svg Certh 38a.svg nd–nj Certh 53.svg n*
Certh 9.svg d Certh 24.svg gw Certh 39.svg i, (y) Certh 54.svg h–s
Certh 10.svg th Certh 25.svg khw Certh 40.svg y* Certh 55.svg Certh 55a.svg *
Certh 11.svg dh Certh 26.svg ghw, w Certh 41.svg hy* Certh 56.svg Certh 56a.svg *
Certh 12.svg n–r Certh 27.svg ngw Certh 42.svg u Certh 57.svg ps*
Certh 13.svg ch Certh 28.svg nw Certh 43.svg ū Certh 58.svg ts*
Certh 14.svg j Certh 29.svg r–j Certh 44.svg w Certh 59.svg +h
Certh 15.svg sh Certh 30.svg rh–zh Certh 45.svg Certh 45a.svg ü Certh 60.svg &

This chart showing the runes shared by the Angerthas Daeron and Angerthas Moria is presented in Appendix E of The Return of the King. Some of the cirth had different values for the Elvish and Dwarvish languages and some were used in only one system or the other. Where two values are given connected with a hyphen, the first is that of the older Angerthas, the second that of the dwarvish Angerthas Moria. Letters with asterisk are dwarvish only, values in brackets elvish only.

See also

External links


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